Pres Schill calls for raises for underpaid UO faculty to increase excellence!

In a bold move, President Schill took to the RG Op-Ed page today with data showing that UO’s faculty are underpaid relative to their peers, arguing that pay increases would improve UO’s teaching and research performance.

2020-21:

But of course I’m kidding about what Pres Schill wrote. His op-ed below argues for raises for state lawmakers – something he has no control over – and not raises for UO faculty, which he does control. But it’s sort of interesting how many of his arguments track those that the faculty union made while Pres Schill was negotiating the recent 3 year agreement that will lead to cuts in real faculty pay.

Compared to 2010-11, things haven’t changed much. Worse for our assistant profs, better for associates and fulls.

Not exactly the stuff of excellence. FWIW here’s Pres Schill’s plan for raises for legislators:

We pay for what we get, so pay Oregon lawmakers more with SB 1566

Michael H. Schill

In addition to being intelligent, dedicated, honest and hardworking, we want Oregon’s lawmakers to reflect the districts and state they represent. Yet, we don’t pay nearly what we should for their service. We have an opportunity to fix this with Senate Bill 1566. 

With the challenges facing our state, we need to ensure the best possible public servants do not forgo public service because they cannot support their families on the current legislative salary.   

In a democracy, it is critical our representatives reflect the state’s diversity. But with such a low legislative salary, if one isn’t retired or independently wealthy, public service may become a sacrifice they cannot make. 

Oregon needs a new compensation model to encourage participation from Oregonians of every walk of life. That is the goal of SB 1566, which would set the legislative salary at the average for the state. For obvious reasons, no legislator wants to advocate for their own pay increase, which is why I feel compelled to speak on their behalf.  

Some might argue the length of the legislative session does not justify a full-time salary. This ignores the fact that much legislative work takes place away from Salem, in the districts legislators represent. I can say elected representatives have spent many days outside the session on the University of Oregon campus assessing needs, talking with experts about problems and coming up with solutions. 

Increasing the salary paid to legislators will also reduce the need for many to work additional jobs, increasing time to devote to the public good and reducing possible conflicts of interest.   

As more candidates are drawn to run for office, it is highly likely races will become more competitive. That competition would be good for our state and our body politic.   

However, for those of us who would like increased numbers of historically underrepresented people in the Legislature, including people of color and economically disadvantaged residents, raising salaries should not be seen as the lone solution. The only systematic study of the relationship between legislative salaries and working-class representation in state legislatures actually finds a negative relationship. 

While higher salaries may draw more people from diverse backgrounds to run into politics, they also can create an incentive for middle- and higher-income candidates. Nevertheless, setting salaries at the mean for the state would not singularly lure people with high incomes to give up their other jobs.  

A recent survey of research by professors at the University of North Carolina and Duke concludes higher legislator salaries are associated with less outside employment, fewer missed votes, more legislation introduced [wait, this is a good thing?], greater congruence with constituents’ views and more electoral competition.  

In our society, what we pay often reflects how much we value something. We all should value a state legislature populated by men and women who reflect Oregon’s diversity and are willing and able to devote themselves and their time to making the state a better place. 

Now is the time for lawmakers to pass SB 1566.  

Michael H. Schill is the University of Oregon president and a professor of law. 

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9 Responses to Pres Schill calls for raises for underpaid UO faculty to increase excellence!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, somehow Schill managed to take a decent argument and make it look like tone-deafness AND bootlicking at the same time.

  2. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Yeah, he seems to be mixing up several messages here — he is saying his proposal will actually decrease working-class representation in the Legislature. Way to go, Mike! And then he manages to throw in more confusion with jabber about diversity matters.

    And why should a high profile public employee like Schill be trying to intervene in state politics at all? Is that even legal?

    I’d guess he thinks that with higher salaries, the Legislature will get more professional types who will favor — guess what! — bigger budgets for higher ed.

    Or maybe he just thinks, Chicago style, that advocating for higher Leg salaries will just motivate them to favor UO!

    Mike, sorry if you’re just being civic minded!

    But this is a surprisingly inept and clumsy piece. I hope they teach law better than this over at that Law School!

    But even with a well-crafted argument, I don’t think that coming from a law professor and UO president, it would have the desired effect.

    Other UO presidents have tried to muck around in Oregon politics, for the benefit of UO, and often done more harm than good. Paul Olum, “The Hat” Lariviere, even Dave Frohnmayer (who was sometimes successful) come to mind.

  3. just different says:

    Well, this is yet another round of WTF in the news today. Why should UO miss out on all the fun?

  4. Anas clypeata says:

    Schill: Lawmakers should get paid more, even the ones who play hooky to deny their colleagues a quorum!

    Schoolteachers: Hold my beer.

  5. Eternal Skeptic says:

    I would say it’s spectacularly tone deaf for a university president with a history of undervaluing their own faculty to publish an op-ed like this — but Schill has proven himself repeatedly to be a truly expert troll. So, given that, this line: “In our society, what we pay often reflects how much we value something,” is the one that counts.

    • Powerball says:

      Schill’s argument is completely consistent: he wants higher salaries to attract new legislators who are “better” than the ones who are in office now. The faculty who are already here are valued completely appropriately. Of course they are! Otherwise why would they have agreed to come? It’s those fancy non-UO faculty that he is willing to pay higher salaries to.

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        That’s a silly argument, and a defeatist argument. Most people come here as assistant professors at salaries that are fairly close to competitive levels. But once they get here, the good ol’ U of O lets them slip further behind competitive levels. (Naive assistant professors usually don’t pay attention to such things. until it’s too late.) Sure, a lot of them stay because it’s hard to move, or because they develop roots here, family and the like, and are reluctant to move. But it’s a cynical game. A lot of people do leave, some of the best. And the resentment builds up among those who stay, especially those who are good. It’s no way to build up a university, that’s for sure — show enough contempt for your faculty and your university will rise. Uh, no. It’s interesting that there seems to be no interest whatsoever among the current “leaders” in bringing faculty salaries to competitive levels. Years ago, there was an effort to do just that, and progress was actually made. The years of Frohnmayer and “The Hat” Lariviere. The current bunch does not even pretend to hide their cynicism.
        But I think the regression by now has been pretty complete. Maybe more than complete, because at least then, there were super pension benefits. Much less so now. Oh, maybe the off-scale salaries at the Knight Campus will make the statistics look better. Not so the reality on the real campus, where the resentment will glow as time passes and people realize what is going on.